Some ideas for CUs inspired by things that aren’t CUs.

Strategic inspiration to help credit unions mix things up

Have you heard the saying about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? There’s a lot of power in good branding, authentic messaging and a creative loan campaign, but sometimes you should be looking elsewhere for inspiration. You might be surprised at how many fresh new ideas you can find when you take a step out of the world of financial institutions.

We’ve looked at what the future might hold for credit unions, but to be honest it seems like some CUs aren’t exactly caught up to the now. There’s a lot of innovation happening right now that you’re going to miss if you don’t take a look around. To help you stretch your creative legs a bit, here are some ideas for CUs inspired by things that, well, aren’t CUs.

Learn how to humblebrag like influencers on social media

A lot of credit unions seem to think social media is just another means of advertising products. And while post after post about loan promotions can work out in the short term, in general it’s better to spread those out so your members don’t get fed up. So what’s a CU to do on social media without advertising?

Quite a lot, actually. Social media is a great place to share the CU’s community involvement and generally just connect with their members. However, while these goals are invaluable they aren’t necessarily going to increase your follower count.

Enter the humblebrag.

For those unfamiliar, humblebragging is when you make a seemingly modest or casual statement meant to draw attention to your impressive qualities or achievements. And a good bit of humblebraggery can be a great way for CUs to strut their stuff.

Draw some inspiration from influencers. Why not tell everyone how much your average member saves each year on loans? Why not show off how the credit union model inherently prioritizes and empowers its members? If you’re part of the CO-OP ATM network, your members have access to 33,000+ surcharge-free ATMs across the US – that’s more than ANY major bank. Do your members know that?

Credit unions make their communities better every day. That’s something worth (humble)bragging about.

Discover semi-annual checkups for financial health

People have been attending semi-annual checkups with doctors, dentists, therapists and opticians for practically their whole lives. So why not start checking in with their credit union about their financial health?

The sad truth is that far too many people have no one to help them with their financial decisions. Honestly, a lot of people seem to be embarrassed to discuss their finances at all. That’s a massive opportunity for credit unions to step up and be a resource for their members.

There’s likely no better way to build trust than to invite your members in for a chat. This could be an informal discussion or a structured program designed to help struggling members start building up their savings. However it’s done, that face-to-face (or screen-to-screen!) interaction could be what gets both current and new members through the doors.

Learn the limitless possibilities of other smartphone apps

Bill Pay, online transfers and mobile deposits are incredibly useful tools. But be honest, the most common reason members open up your CU’s app is to check their balance.

According to 2021 data, people spend nearly 5 hours a day looking at their phones, and they’re probably not staring at their checking account. By the way, if you just thought “It’s those kids and their TikToks,” you’re missing the point.

Take some inspiration from the myriad of pointless apps people have downloaded on their phones. Think about the little addicting mobile games, and consider that the mobile gaming industry is worth over $116 billion as of last year. You can’t tell me there’s no lessons to be learned here.

A lot of these apps offer some kind of reward for daily check-ins, even if it’s just in-game currency or resources. It’s not difficult to see how you might employ these strategies to encourage members to use the CU’s app. Check-ins could contribute to some sort of relationship-based rewards program or just $25 in their account every so often. (Some daily financial education might play nicely with that financial health program we discussed before, just saying.)

There’s also a whole lot of 3rd-party apps in play, like P2P payment apps. It might behoove you to get flexible as we move into the future of online finance management. 

See how committing to long-term initiatives pays dividends

You might have noticed these aren’t short-term goals. While you can start humblebragging as soon as today, you probably can’t put these other ideas into practice right away. But there’s a lot of value in radical transparency, showing your members what you’re thinking for the long term.

People know what happens when a financial institution, or any business, is too focused on quick profits. It’s reassuring for your members to know their credit union is going to be around for the long haul, and be there for them. The key is to keep talking about the things you’re doing, even when the payoff is still on the horizon.

A good model for this is a platform like Kickstarter, where people crowdfund good ideas every day. Once the project is fully funded, it’s not just radio silence. There’s transparency and accountability – the team behind the idea is expected to send out frequent updates to their supporters.

And you could do the same for your members; make long-term goals, share the goals to get members on board, and share the progress to get them excited and to demonstrate the credit union’s value.

Sam Dicken

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